The first step is admitting it. Hello, my name is Julie, and I am a sweet tea addict.
I've been a sweet tea addict for as long as I can remember. It's been the house wine since I was a kid, and at this point in life I've become both vintner and sommelier. Or, considering my level of addiction, I'm probably closer to the Walter White of sweet tea. The process to make it correctly is not difficult, but there is a real science involved and I'm not kidding. How else do you think I got the nickname "Sweet Tea?"
Here are my confessions as a life-long sweet tea addict.
1. I'm low-level angry when we are out.
And we are ALWAYS out. I cannot begin to tell you how annoying this is. Because I want tea NOW, not thirty minutes from now! That's approximately how long it takes to make a proper batch of tea. Seriously, I'll be twitchy and anxious long before then. You'd think the solution would be to make some when we're nearly out so that there's a constant supply. But, my family loves sweet tea too, and they regularly fail to tell me when we're running low. Probably because they know my response will be, "Again?! GAHHHHHHHH!" *grumble grumble, make tea* And no, you can't make double batches to have twice as much. Well, I mean you CAN, but you risk altering the proper chemistry for it to taste right. Then you have two batches of mediocre tea instead of one batch of amazing tea. Ever tried to double a cookie recipe and messed it up? Similar situation.
2. I'm a brand snob.
Lipton. That's it. No Tetley, no Luzianne, and for the love of all that is holy, NO GREAT VALUE. As I mentioned in a previous article, Reasons Why I Never Pay Full Price For Anything, I'm all about bargain shopping. But tea is serious business and absolutely worth paying for the name brand. And I know someone out there is reading this, thinking they've got a brand for me. No. Just no. Trust me, I've tried them all. This is how those conversations always go:
Person: Have you tried Red Diamond?
Person: Well what about Gold Peak? Or Arizona?
Me: *incredulous stare*
Person: I like Nestea. Have you tried Nestea?
Me: I kinda want to drown you with your Nestea Plunge right now.
I've just dated myself with the Nestea Plunge reference, but you get the idea. Also, I realize there are actual tea snobs out there with their loose leaf herbal concoctions that require the kind of preparation that would make a Japanese tea house close forever. Again, just no. We're talking about Southern Sweet Tea. It doesn't need raspberries or peaches. It doesn't need mint, or a brew basket, or 47 steps to prepare. The most leeway I'll give is a slice or two of lemon, even though I never have lemon in my own.
3. You know all those coffee memes circulating the internet? That's me, except with tea.
I love coffee, but it can't compete with tea. I got up this morning, got the kids ready, put them on the school bus, and headed directly to the kitchen at 7:40 a.m. to pour myself a tall, frosty glass of happiness. We were out (*sigh*), so I made a batch. That goes to show you, though, how much higher tea ranks in my affections. Five minutes to brew coffee, thirty to brew tea. Tea wins every time. Even when I drink coffee (which I do every morning at work, and pretty regularly in the winter), I'm already getting tea before I've finished my cuppa Joe.
4. Purse, keys, cell phone, TEA. It's how I roll.
It's kind of a joke in my family, actually. I never go ANYWHERE without a cup of tea. And, if I'm in a hurry and we are out at home (almost always), I immediately budget extra time and begin brainstorming where I can stop and get some. If I show up anywhere without tea in hand please take note that I'm either desperately ill, or trying to signal that I'm the victim in some sort of hostage situation.
5. I choose restaurants based on the quality of their tea.
I know, it's ridiculous. I will drink something else if I have to, like if we're out to dinner with friends and they choose a spot with bad tea. But if I'm alone, during my lunch break from work for example, I absolutely will decide where to eat this way, OR I will budget the time to make two stops. It doesn't come up often because I always have tea with me, but sometimes I've run out by lunch and it's time for more. Sonic and QuikTrip have superior sweet tea, and surprisingly, McDonald's is acceptable. That's about it as far as fast food and convenience stores go. It's been my experience that regular sit-down restaurants typically have terrible tea. Incidentally, if I'm eating in a restaurant and order sweet tea and they offer me regular tea and sugar packets, hoooooo boy! I might cut someone with my steak knife.
6. I don't like to share. Scratch that, I hate to share.
I don't like to, but I will with a small group. By "small group" I mean my husband and kids. If we are expecting company I'll make an extra batch that I'm not emotionally attached to, so that I can share with them and not feel resentful that people are drinking up all my tea. Yes, I'm aware this is weird. Addiction is a strange beast.
7. Tea goes with virtually everything.
Tea is basically the Little Black Dress of drinks. Always classic, always appropriate, and always in style. Granted, it doesn't go with literally everything, but it's pretty close. I've been known to chase chocolate chip cookies with a swig of tea, but we've already established that I'm an addict and more than a little weird. I truly cannot think of a meal that doesn't pair well with sweet tea. House wine, indeed.
8. I've had to go cold turkey before, and it was awful.
I was diagnosed as insulin resistant with my first pregnancy. This meant I had to stop sweet tea, immediately. I was banned from cookies, cakes, candy...basically anything that would spike my blood sugar. And I didn't care about any of it except for the sweet tea. I displayed all the classic symptoms of withdrawal: headaches, fatigue, irritability, but when presented with the choice between the health of my child or indulging my addiction, it was no contest. The day my doctor broke the news, I stopped drinking tea altogether. It was difficult, but absolutely worth it. I won't kid you though. The moment he was born I wanted tacos and sweet tea. And I got it.
My measly little addiction to sweet tea certainly doesn't rank with alcohol or hard drug addictions, and I'm not pretending that it does. But we all have our vices, whether it's meth, casinos, sweet tea, or reruns of "Gray's Anatomy." Meth will mess up your life immediately. Casinos are a fun way to spend a Saturday night, but lives are ruined when the rent money is being gambled away every month. Binge watching "Gray's Anatomy" is a problem if the house is wrecked and the kids are neglected. And sweet tea is a problem if the health of an unborn child cannot overcome the need. I may always relapse, but I have quit tea on more than one occasion when life required it. In the grand scheme of things, my addiction is small. And I can quit any time I want. Winning!